Written By: Kristal Docter
With the recent explosion of crafty cocktail creations, we thought you might like to know whose signature cocktails are standing out. We also wanted to show you that you don’t have to go to the most-talked-about venue or pay extraordinary prices for a good drink. These neighborhood bars serve beverages infused with hand-crafted everything from bitters, syrups and sodas to carefully placed garnishments.
And, as any conscientious drinker should, we sipped our way through these bars, pubs and lounges with a chauffeur from Orange County’s premier solution to having a private driver with YOUR CAR OUR DRIVER. YOUR CAR OUR DRIVER allows you to sit back in the comfort and convenience of your own car while their insured chauffeurs drive you around for rates much lower than that hummer limo you certainly don’t need. Chauffer Paul was fantastic, awaiting our return in a suit with open doors as we walked, and soon stumbled, out of these eight local watering holes.
Dulce Vida Reposado, fresh lime, strawberry & tarragon shrub float of mezcal optional.
Five Crowns has been a Corona Del Mar landmark for over 50 years and recently underwent a major facelift. And this fresh Strawberry Margarita is part of Cooper’s Bar, which was added to the Five Crowns Greenhouse as part of the renovation. This cocktail is a sweet and fun version of the classic happy hour favorite. Stop in for the Strawberry Margarita with your gal pals or on a date, either way you’re in for a treat. Don’t forget to snap an Instagram pic in the English-inspired red phone booth out front on your way out!
3801 East Coast Hwy | Corona Del Mar, CA 92625
Espresso, Vanilla Vodka, Kahlua, Bailey’s, and splash Frangelico Chocolate.
Donnie and Marie. Ron Burgundy and San Diego. There are some things in life that are just made to go together. I have now added espresso and vanilla vodka to that list. It didn’t hurt that Kahlua, Bailey’s and Frangelico were invited to the party, but the vodka and coffee were meant for each other. The latest incarnation of The Arches (the 1926 monument to everything Newport), A Restaurant is fulfilling the legend of its predecessor and making strides to surpass it with new menu items and mixologists who know how to concoct exciting libations. After the first sip, it’s tempting to shoot the entire drink like a cup of espresso.
3334 W Coast Hwy | Newport Beach, CA 92663
Flavors of pineapple, orgeat, and coconut topped with cranberry.
Lighthouse Bayview Cafe sits on the Balboa Peninsula within the brand new Marina Park in Newport Beach. And with this idyllic setting, The Bay View cocktail will not disappoint as you watch the sun go down and boats pulling in the harbor. This drink pairs perfectly with some friends and the white fish street tacos, which are only $4.95 0n the happy hour menu! What’s better than happy hour on the bay? Let me answer that for you—nothing. This is an Orange County paradise.
Lighthouse Bayview Cafe
1600 W Balboa Blvd | Newport Beach, CA 92663
Redemption Rye, Benedictine, Averna, Campari.
This two-level, saloon-style bar is literally taking the tavern to a whole other level while embracing the integrity of its roots. Hopscotch Tavern (its name a combo of hops and scotch) is situated inside what was once the pass-through between the train stop and the bus stop. Built around 1918, this building is aging as elegantly as the whiskey it now serves. With over 110 whiskeys behind the bar, Hopscotch Tavern has the largest selection in Orange County. Did you say, sophisticated? Hopscotch Tavern has its own walk-in humidor as well as a designated cigar patio in addition to its large, outdoor back patio. We can see many long nights to come spent within these historically-filled walls.
136 East Commonwealth Avenue | Fullerton, CA 92832
St. Champagne Cocktail
St. Germain, Cava, Lemon Essence.
Travel the world with your palate at Sapphire Laguna. Chef Azmin Ghahreman is a citizen of the world and his menu reflects his upbringing and his experience as a chef. Any of his delectable dishes pair well with the classic St. Champagne Cocktail—it is the perfect refresher to sip at the beautiful Sapphire Laguna. The interior of the restaurant is dim and quaint, but the patio is the real kicker. Along Pacific Coast Highway, the people-watching is prime. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, you’ll enjoy the view while sipping on Sapphire’s signature bubbly.
1200 S Coast Hwy #101 | Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Tequila blanco, lime, agave, mint, matcha aqua faba, CBD.
Vegetarians and vegans, listen up. Cafe Gratitude serves only 100 percent plant-based cuisine and cocktails. But don’t let the matcha plant shape atop this drink derail or dismay you—you cannot get high from Cafe Gratitude’s Sour T-iesel cocktail. CBD is non psychoactive. It’s is an essential oil that is cold press extracted from the Cannabis plant and is known to reduce inflammation, anxiety, and depression. This refreshing drink is especially delicious paired with the “Fierce, ” which are crispy tortilla skewers with jerk marinated portobello, roasted garnet yams, cashew queso fresco, pinto beans, and served with roasted tomatillo dipping sauce. This is the heaven of happy hours!
1617 Westcliff Drive| Newport Beach, CA 92660
Mezcal Me On My Cellphone
Vida Mezcal, Green Chartreuse, blood orange, lime.
Orange Hill Restaurant is re-opening their O BAR in October after major renovations with a fresh new look and menu to go with it! The Mezcal Me On My Cellphone cocktail is so delicious you can’t help but have a few. It’s an herbaceous, silky, curious, peppery, and refreshing experience that hits your palate with some teeth while still reminding you of its sophistication. Why the name? BECAUSE DRAKE. Don’t miss out on its counter part The Hot-Lime Bling. The new bar program will also boast a vast selection of single malts; Japanese and Taiwanese whiskies; and craft cocktails incorporating fresh, local, and organic ingredients.
Orange Hill Restaurant
6410 E Chapman Ave | Orange, CA 92869
Dickel Rye, Ginger Syrup, Lemon Juice, Aperol, Angostura Bitters, Cola.
Every part of the name of this Downtown Santa Ana pub is evident in the drink we were served. They utilize old bartending techniques that would likely come from the first chapter of bartending. Downtown Santa Ana has experienced a food revival over the past half decade adding nearly a dozen restaurants that are pushing the culinary envelope. Chapter One is at the head of that class. They set out on a mission to bring the feel of pubs worldwide into their establishment and have been exceedingly successful.
Chapter One: The Modern Local
227 N Broadway | Santa Ana, CA 92701
Red Head in Bed
Ketel citroen, strawberries, lemon juice, sparkling wine.
The self-proclaimed “Bordello meets burger bar” occupies a corner on the back side of Main Street in Huntington Beach in much the same way its older brother occupies real estate in the back of the ultra hip Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood. The site in Hollywood served as the venue backdrop for Turtle, Vince and the “Entourage” gang for the 2006 season premier photo shoot. The Red Head in Bed is served very cold and shaken vigorously before being poured through a strainer straight into a chilled glass. This restaurant might be famous for burgers and turtles, but we feel their updated drink menu will be the reason we will be stopping in again soon.
412 Walnut Ave | Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Berry vodka, lemonade, topped with POM juice.
This beach resort bar is everything for which you’d hope. It’s located right next to the pool with cool views of the Pacific Ocean and a heated patio complete with a fire pit for the chillier winter months. Shades Restaurant & Bar is a favorite for hotel guests and local functions, but we suggest you also put them on your list for a leisurely happy hour cocktail by the beach. Yes, Shades does have an unbeatable happy hour for an establishment of its caliber. Shades’ signature cocktail of choice suits its beachside locale, too. The Lazy-K Lemonade is named after one of the bartenders and is sweet and fresh like a bowl of fruit, perfect for slow sipping by the pool any time of the year.
Shades Restaurant & Bar
21100 Pacific Coast Highway | Huntington Beach, CA 92648